Bulletin 228

Download Bulletin 228

December 2023 – Bulletin 228

George Schenck: an art pottery manufacturer in Mitcham – Ben Angwin
Endecotts, G H Zeal Ltd and Foster Engineering Co Ltd: three factory sites in South
Wimbledon – Norma Cox
Devonshire Dining Rooms – a moveable feast? – Christine Pittman
Dorset Hall’s Secrets (3) – Hugh Morgan
and much more

David Luff’s main Sindy display (with one Paul) at Heritage Discovery Day (see p.7)

Programme December 2023 – April 2024 2
Your new Committee 2
Have you paid? 2
Review: Medieval Morden – Dr Mark Page 3
Local History Workshops: 4

23 June 2023 Plan of the Canons; Lyon Road environmental samples; last bus stable block; Class 60
locomotive; Dalton Baker; Science exercise book
25 August 2023 Gardener and family in Morden Park ; C B Collett OBE; parachute silk;
radio beacon in Mitcham
George Schenck: an art pottery manufacturer in Mitcham – Ben Angwin 6
Merton Heritage Discovery Day and other events we attended 7
Visit to the church of St Mary the Virgin, Merton Park – Auriel Glanville 8

A walk on Wimbledon Common: ‘Wimbledon ladies of significance from the worlds of theatre,

literature and politics’ – Norma Cox 9
Visit to Wimbledon Museum – Christine Pittman 10
Endecotts, G H Zeal Ltd and Foster Engineering Co Ltd: three factory sites in South
Wimbledon – Norma Cox 11
Devonshire Dining Rooms – a moveable feast? – Christine Pittman 14
The secrets of Dorset Hall (3) – Hugh Morgan 16

Saturday 9 December at 2.30pm ‘The History of Wandsworth Prison’
A talk by Stewart McLaughlin, historian and curator of the prison museum
Saturday 13 January 2024 at 2.30pm ‘Jane Morris – the Pre-Raphaelite Muse’
talk by John Hawks of Merton Priory Trust
(This is a change from the subject advertised in our brochure)
Saturday 10 February at 2.30pm ‘Papermaking along the Wandle’
talk by John Sheridan of the Wandle Industrial Museum
Saturday 9 March at 2.30pm ‘Sports along the Wandle’
talk by Mick Taylor of the Wandle Industrial Museum
Saturday 13 April at 2.30pm ‘The Richest of the Rich: Richard Thornton of Cannon Hill’
talk by Heritage Officer Sarah Gould
Visitors are very welcome to attend any of our events.
Meetings are held in St James’s Church Hall in Martin Way, next to the church.
Buses 164 and 413 stop in Martin Way (in both directions) immediately outside.
Parking in adjacent streets is free.
Local History Workshops: Fridays 19 Jan and 1 Mar 2024 from 2.30pm
at the Wandle industrial Museum, next door to the Vestry Hall, Mitcham.
Do join us. You don’t have to share any research unless you wish to.
Saturday 9 December at 2.30pm ‘The History of Wandsworth Prison’
A talk by Stewart McLaughlin, historian and curator of the prison museum
Saturday 13 January 2024 at 2.30pm ‘Jane Morris – the Pre-Raphaelite Muse’
talk by John Hawks of Merton Priory Trust
(This is a change from the subject advertised in our brochure)
Saturday 10 February at 2.30pm ‘Papermaking along the Wandle’
talk by John Sheridan of the Wandle Industrial Museum
Saturday 9 March at 2.30pm ‘Sports along the Wandle’
talk by Mick Taylor of the Wandle Industrial Museum
Saturday 13 April at 2.30pm ‘The Richest of the Rich: Richard Thornton of Cannon Hill’
talk by Heritage Officer Sarah Gould
Visitors are very welcome to attend any of our events.
Meetings are held in St James’s Church Hall in Martin Way, next to the church.
Buses 164 and 413 stop in Martin Way (in both directions) immediately outside.
Parking in adjacent streets is free.
Local History Workshops: Fridays 19 Jan and 1 Mar 2024 from 2.30pm
at the Wandle industrial Museum, next door to the Vestry Hall, Mitcham.
Do join us. You don’t have to share any research unless you wish to.

At our AGM on 11 November, the following were elected:
Chair: Christine Pittman
Vice Chair: Peter Hopkins
Secretary: Rosemary Turner
Treasurer: Janet Holdsworth

Committee: Irene Burroughs, Dave Haunton, David Luff, Bea Oliver, Tony Scott and San Ward


Subscriptions for 2023–2024 are now overdue. Please note that this will be the last issue to
reach you if we do not receive your payment before the March Bulletin. A membership form was
enclosed with the September Bulletin. Current rates are:

Individual member £12, Additional member in same household £5, Full-time Student £5.

If possible, please use online banking to pay your subscription, as banks charge us for cheques

– details on the renewal form. But if that is not possible for you, cheques are payable to Merton
Historical Society and should be sent with completed forms to our Membership Secretary.

The AGM Minutes, Treasurer’s Report and Chair’s Report are enclosed, on a separate sheet.




[This review by Dr Mark Page first appeared in Surrey Archaeological Collections 105, December 2023.]

In the Middle Ages the manor of Morden (in what is now south London) belonged to Westminster
Abbey. The abbey’s administration of the manor produced a substantial archive, much of which is still preserved
in the abbey’s muniment room, and it is to Peter Hopkins’ great credit that after many years of transcribing and

analysing the surviving manuscript sources he has begun to publish his findings. Three volumes are planned. The
first, published in 2020 [price £7.50, members £6, + £3.35 postage], provided a study of the manorial economy

between 1280 and the 16th century. The present volume is longer and arguably more ambitious, extending from
Domesday Book in 1086 to the earliest maps of Morden in 1553 and beyond. It examines the ways in which the

local landscape changed over time, and in particular the fluctuating landholdings of the tenants who populated

the manor. In many ways the story told is a familiar one, though no less valuable for that. A period of population
growth and agricultural expansion in the 12th and 13th centuries was halted from 1348-9 by the devastating
impact of the Black Death and later outbreaks of plague, which altered the relationship between land, lords
and people, and introduced new opportunities and challenges for those seeking to take advantage of (or merely

survive) the very different economic and social conditions of the 15th and early 16th centuries.

Morden’s post-Domesday expansion is treated in considerable detail, and the resulting picture is a complex one.
Hopkins seeks to explain how the manor’s increased population was accommodated, scrupulously evaluating the
available evidence, and suggesting alternative interpretations. The abbey appears to have reorganised its 300acre
demesne, consolidating its formerly scattered strips into discrete parcels of land separate from the tenants’

open-field holdings. Around the same time new free and customary tenancies were created, either by reallocation

of former demesne land, or by subdivision of existing holdings, or by the ploughing-up of common pasture.
Probably all three strategies were employed, and in the process settlement spread to Lower Morden south-west
of the parish church. The history of individual tenancies can be partially reconstructed, revealing the ways in

which different families coped with changing circumstances. Before the Black Death land tended to remain

within the family, passing by inheritance down the generations, though often subject to small-scale alteration.

Additional housing was provided by a pattern of infilling familiar from more recent centuries, by establishing

new cottage plots at the rear of existing tenements or by enclosing narrow strips of roadside waste to create long
linear extensions similar to later ribbon development. By such means non-inheriting family members were given
the chance to establish themselves in the community, building up smallholdings from the fragments of land
circulating by gift, sale or lease.

The population was vulnerable to poor harvests and disease including the Black Death, one effect of which was

to introduce greater instability in the relationship between tenants and their holdings. Land was no longer in
such short supply, and was more likely to pass outside the family. Two trends already apparent before the plague

accelerated significantly thereafter, with long-term repercussions. The accumulation of land in single ownership

increased, so that by the 16th century a number of substantial farms emerged, producing goods for market and
employing local labour. Outsiders also engaged more frequently in the buying and selling of tenants’ holdings, a
new element being the appearance of wealthy London citizens and courtiers for whom Morden’s property market

offered the opportunity for lucrative short-term investments. The outcome of those 15th- and 16th-century land
transfers lasted long enough to leave an imprint on 18th- and 19th-century maps and documents, and in the final
chapter Hopkins identifies the present-day location of many of the manor’s late medieval farms, cottages and fields.

The interest to the local historian of such detailed reconstructions is evident, though there is a wider relevance
too. Long-term patterns of landholding and landscape change tell us much about how previous generations made
a living and adapted their environment to varying economic and social needs. The transformation of medieval
Morden, revealed here in all its complexity, makes for a remarkable and valuable case study.

AND NOW – the final volume:

Peter Hopkins, Medieval Morden: Neighbourhood and Community (2023) £12.50 (£10
members) + £3.35 postage.

All three volumes are available from Peter at 57 Templecombe Way, Morden, Surrey SM4 4JF.
Email publications@mertonhistoricalsociety.org.uk to pay online or to arrange to collect a copy
from Peter at home or at a meeting.




We welcomed John Sheridan who was joining us for the first time.

♦ Peter Hopkins had been re-thinking the plan of The Canons, following the MHS visit. The original house
of 1680 had a NW extension, a later NE extension and a SE extension. An estate plan of 1815 at SHC shows
the NW extension, but not the other two, so this must have been the location of the rooms about which Peter
had been uncertain – the wash house at basement level, the parlour on the ground floor and the dressing
room on the second floor. On our visit it was clear that the SE extension had been carefully matched to the
original building in its external decorative features, unlike
the NE one – even its windows differed, with
curved tops rather than straight (see photo on Bulletin 227
cover). Hence the SE extension preceded the NE.

Geoff Potter of Compass Archaeology had sent Peter reports on environmental analysis of samples from 1921
Lyon Road,SW19. The first two samples were from trench 1 –the site of the westernmost of three linear

ponds shown on the 1805 estate map of Merton Abbey. The second group of samples were from trench 2 – a
large, previously unknown (apparently N-S aligned) water feature in the western part of the site. A C14 date

indicates that the feature was infilling during the Tudor/Stuart periods (1508-1670). Evidence elsewhere (eg

in Station Road) shows that the Priory’s land drainage systems were breaking down at this time. This seems

to confirm Peter’s suspicions that the three ponds had begun life as monastic fish ponds, and that they were

only part of a series that reached to the western part of the site. What surprised him was that the Merton

ponds may have housed freshwater oysters and mussels, not just fish. [After the Workshop Geoff explained

that freshwater mussels were not farmed for food but were useful in keeping the ponds clean!]
Compass will be monitoring works by the National Trust to rebuild two sections of the Listed Priory wall
in Pickle Park, recording the work and the surviving wall footings, and checking the collapsed material for

any significant stonework, etc. Plans are accessible on the LBM planning website.

♦ John Sheridan is researching the employment of children, and had been surprised to find in the Parliamentary
archives some discussion about children working specifically in the Wandle mills.
♦ Joyce Bellamy, who pursues her interest in horse-drawn transport in Mitcham, was saddened to learn recently
that the Box Sash Window joinery firm had left their premises just behind Vestry Hall, and that the site,
owned by Merton Council, is likely to be re-developed. The last surviving stable block in the area, it still
preserved some features of its time as a horse bus stable –including Staffordshire Blue brick floors, mangers,
hay racks and partitions. (Note that the National Trust has stripped almost all of the original features from
the stable block in Morden Hall Park.) It is amusing to note that, despite the presence of many horses, there
were no manure heaps in Mitcham, as the ‘product’ was eagerly carted away by all the market gardeners.

♦ David Luff has train-spotted locally a (British Rail) Class 60 heavy freight diesel-electric locomotive, now
operated by DC Rail, and built between 1989 and 1993 by Brush Traction of Loughborough. Brush had won
a tender (maybe the only bidder) to build a replacement for the Class 5 heavy steam locomotive, with ‘an
availability of 98%’. Plagued by troubles, the design was eventually cured of all ills some seven years after
the last engine
was built – but the type never did achieve the specified 98% availability. David noted that
DC Rail (formerly Devon & Cornwall Railways) are now part of the Cappagh group of companies, whose
HQ is in Waterside Way, SW17. They used to have a yard in Station Road, Merton Abbey, in the 1970s,
moving to the Plough Lane area in the late 1980s when the Merton Abbey site was re-developed.

♦ Dave Haunton spoke about Dalton Baker, a Merton lad who became a professional
singer, and in the early 1900s was described as the ‘greatest baritone in the world’. Born
in Merton on 17 October 1879 and named William Henry after his brick-layer father,
he early became a choirboy at the Anglo-Catholic All Saints Church in Margaret Street,
Fitzrovia. In 1894-96 he was organist and choir-master at Chelsea Barracks (aged 1517!)
and then, 1896-1903, occupied the same two posts at St Mary Magdalen, Munster
Square, Regent’s Park (againAnglo-Catholic). He studied at the RoyalAcademy of Music,
becoming ARAM in 1903. He then became a professional singer, adopting his mother’s
maiden name as ‘Dalton Baker’ (c.1908
He was sufficiently successful that in
1905 Edward VII commanded him to sing at a state concert held at Windsor Castle in honour of the King of
Greece, alongside such then famous singers as Mary Garden (American soprano), Nellie Melba (Australian
soprano) and Giovanni Zenatello (Italian tenor). He toured the USA in 1908, emigrated there in 1913, and
moved to Canada in 1914. Based in Toronto, he flourished as organist, choir-master, conductor, singer and
teacher, and indeed composer of classical music, until he retired in 1956. He died in Vancouver in 1970.


♦ Rosemary Turner brought along a mystery. This was a (blank) ‘Science Exercise
Book / Supplied for the Public Service’, half foolscap size, each of whose pages
were printed with lines on one side and graph squares on the other. Presumably
produced for the Department for Education, with an ‘E R’ cipher (rather than
‘E II R’) above the title. [After the workshop, Rosemary found another, earlier,
example with a ‘G R’ cipher (right), so the omission of the regnal number is Civil
Service bureaucracy rather than accident.] A line at the bottom of the page in very
small print reads ‘Bks.78,000 12/55 AC & S Ltd’. Can anyone confirm that this
is the size of print run and the date of printing? Or identify the printers? Or the

♦ Rosemary Turner brought along a mystery. This was a (blank) ‘Science Exercise
Book / Supplied for the Public Service’, half foolscap size, each of whose pages
were printed with lines on one side and graph squares on the other. Presumably
produced for the Department for Education, with an ‘E R’ cipher (rather than
‘E II R’) above the title. [After the workshop, Rosemary found another, earlier,
example with a ‘G R’ cipher (right), so the omission of the regnal number is Civil
Service bureaucracy rather than accident.] A line at the bottom of the page in very
small print reads ‘Bks.78,000 12/55 AC & S Ltd’. Can anyone confirm that this
is the size of print run and the date of printing? Or identify the printers? Or the

♦ Peter Hopkins reported on an email received from Stephen Wood, who sent photos of his great grandparents,
taken in Morden Park, some time before 1888. These were William John Gilbert and his wife, Elizabeth,
who were staying with Charles and Mary Gibson – Elizabeth and Mary were sisters. Charles Gibson was
a gardener in Morden Park and lived in Morden Park Cottage with his wife and daughter, Mary.
Peter had also received two enquiries asking for the exact location of Nelson’s house, Merton Place. He had
produced three maps – sales particulars, dated 1823, showing the property, and then these details transcribed
on the 1894 OS map, and Google maps 2023.

♦ David Luff mentioned the unmarked grave of Charles Benjamin Collett OBE in Gap Road Cemetery and
spoke of the fundraising scheme in place to buy a headstone. Collett was a pioneering Chief Mechanical
Engineer for the Great Western Railway from 1922 to 1941.
♦ Joyce Bellamy said that the General Giles Social Club in Mitcham were happy to display our posters, and
commented on the sad state of some green spaces which were not being maintained.
♦ John Sheridan took us through the field books and maps, part of the Lloyd George Domesday survey of
1910-1915, which are now available online via The Genealogist UK magazine.

♦ Mick Taylor described a mysterious double line of bricks in Mitcham. They lie across the path to the running
track, beside the bowling green. No maps had yet provided an explanation.
♦ Rosemary Turner brought along a large piece of parachute silk (actually
rayon), which had previously been cut for making garments. Blurred
pale red stamps on the fabric included a George crown with the letters
‘AM’ under it (Air Ministry) and ‘Wm E Wright & Sons’, with a possible
Lot number. This was one piece of several, from at least two different
sources, one finer than the other. One had a white cord attached; another
had heavy radiating reinforcing seams (right). The war had cut off the
supply of Japanese silk for parachutes, so an alternative fabric, originally
known as ‘artificial silk’, was imported. It was officially made available
for sale
in 1945, before clothes rationing had ended, and sold off-coupon through army surplus suppliers.
[Subsequently, Rosemary discovered that ‘Wm E Wright & Sons’were an American firm who produced
sewing trimmings before the War.]

♦ Christine Pittman explained that she had finally found enough evidence to show that the Devonshire Dining
Rooms really had existed on High Street, Colliers Wood, and not on Devonshire Road, as previously stated
on Merton Memories website. See p.14 for her full article.

♦ Dave Haunton had dealt with an enquiry from South Africa concerning a
‘wireless transmitting station near Croydon aerodrome, near Mitcham’. It was
inaugurated on 18 January 1920, sited just off Mitcham Common, between
Beddington Lane station and the Jolly Gardeners (the isolated dark square in an
otherwise empty field 3b, in map, right, kindly located by Mick Taylor), some

2.5 miles from the airfield. As an NDB (Non-Directional Beacon) it was the
radio equivalent of a lighthouse, to assist pilots and navigators to determine their
position. In early 1938 it was upgraded to a VOR (VHF Omni-directional Range),
allowing pilots to actively discover how far they were from the transmitter.

Christine Pittman
Next Workshops Fridays 19 Jan and 1 Mar 2024 at 2.30pm at Wandle industrial Museum. All welcome.


BEN ANGWiN has begun his investigation of

BEN ANGWiN has begun his investigation of

George Henry Theodore Schenck was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1832. No information has yet been

found prior to him arriving in Britain. He first appears in the 1861 census, receiving British naturalisation in

1871. He worked as a Merchant’s Clerk for several decades and he appears to have gone by names George
and Theodore throughout his lifetime. For more than half a century, Schenck reappears in censuses, registers,
and directories which connect him to businesses and locations in and around London, including Islington,
Sydenham, Lewisham, Bloomsbury, Croydon, and Mitcham.

Schenck’s connection to Mitcham is a curious one. He is first mentioned in a commercial directory in 1911
as an ‘art pottery manufacturer’: he reappears in Post Office directories of trades and professions in 1912

and 1914, and in Kelly’s Directory for Surrey in 1913. All of these listings place Schenck at no.1 Nursery
Road, Mitcham. Many of the properties on Nursery Road were demolished in the 1960s. Photographs, taken
just before demolition (Merton Library and Heritage Service), and an OS map, surveyed in 1953, show that
properties in Nursery Road, particularly those at the north end, towards Lower Green West, comprised Victorian
cottages with workshop buildings at the rear. In 1912 Schenck’s immediate neighbours included a beer retailer
and a motoring garage, evidence of the diverse cottage industries in the street at the time. Genealogical records

suggest the origins of Schenck’s connection to Mitcham were through his second marriage. His first wife died

in 1891, but in 1892 Schenck married Maria Amelia Hill (c.1843–1916) who was born in Mitcham. George

and Maria did not live in Mitcham, however, but at 43 Addiscombe Road, Croydon, (five miles from Nursery

Road), having relocated there from Lewisham at some time between 1901 and 1911. The same Croydon
address is listed for both of their deaths, in 1916 and 1919, respectively. No children appear on the census
entries for George or Maria, though they adopted a niece named Rosalie ‘Rosie’ S. Schenck (née Recanati,
born c.1873) sometime in the 1890s. Curiously Rosalie listed her birthplace as Turkey and Italy on different
censuses (presumably for political reasons). She married John Bowring in 1898, and was also living at 43

Addiscombe Road when George Schenck died in 1919. His probate record lists George’s effects as worth

almost £15,000 – equivalent to nearly £640,000 in 2023.

George Schenck also appears in central London directories in 1914 where he is listed among ‘Art Pottery
Manufacturers’ at the somewhat dubious address of ‘56 High Street, Bloomsbury, WC’. Current research

indicates this address was associated with a number of professions, which may suggest it was an office and

not a ceramics workshop. In 1910 Schenck exhibited at the Salon of the Allied Artists Association (AAA), an
exhibition held annually at the Royal Albert Hall. The AAA was an important exhibiting society modelled on
European exhibiting societies whose members sought greater professional independence. Even as a mature
art potter (he was 78 in 1910), and as a retired clerk, Schenck was closely associated with his modern artist
contemporaries in ways which deepened again in 1913 when he began working with the Omega Workshops.

Established in July 1913, the Omega Workshops was a radical applied art and interior decorating enterprise led
by some of the most famous names in modern British art. Founded by Bloomsbury group painter and art critic
Roger Fry, and supported by fellow Bloomsbury painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, the Omega’s artist-
decorators sought to introduce the ‘spirit of fun’ into modern homes by creating and decorating all manner of

products. No surface was off limits. They produced printed and woven textiles, painted silks, knotted rugs,
painted and marquetry furniture, stained glass, floor mosaics, painted murals, as well as wearable fashion such
as tunics, dresses, pyjamas, artificial flowers, parasols, fans, and beaded jewellery. Another significant feature

of the Omega’s production was its modern ceramics which were inspired by native English pottery and ancient
examples from Southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and East Asia. Shapes were often simple and
hand thrown and glazed in a limited number of colours. Many of the early pieces were overpainted with Post-

Impressionist figures and designs of abstract forms.
Schenck’s connection to Omega ceramics begins in autumn 1913, when Fry, the group’s founder and figurehead,

took lessons from ‘the old potter’ (Schenck was then an octogenarian). Before discovering Schenck, the
Omega’s artists painted commercially produced blanks which lacked the imperfect and handmade qualities
they desired. Correspondence between the artists tells us that they received tuition from Schenck, who
also provided them with clay and a potter’s wheel. Apparently only Fry achieved promising results and he

persevered under Schenck’s direction. Schenck then made several pieces copied from Fry’s own early efforts.


These letters also reveal that the Omega continued working with Schenck well into 1914, when he would

These letters also reveal that the Omega continued working with Schenck well into 1914, when he would

hand paint. On one occasion Fry brought an Omega Workshops patron, the wife of Germany’s ambassador

to Britain, to visit Schenck’s Mitcham workshop. However, perhaps due to differences of ideas and possible

limitations in Schenck’s abilities, this professional collaboration ceased sometime in the latter half of 1914. In
early 1915 the Omega’s ceramics production moved to the larger premises of Carter and Co. in Poole, Dorset,

(latterly famous as Poole Pottery) which was able to refine and expand production.

The Omega’s early ceramic production under Schenck is of immense historical importance, because it represents
the group’s formative inquiries into the medium and arguably its most experimental. Surviving pieces produced
during this period are often highly ambitious in the artists’ exploration of form and in their unskilled application
of glazes, overpaints, and metallic lustres. As such, these pieces can also vary in quality and in their success.
Schenck’s involvement within this story remains little understood beyond his elusive tuition and the use of his
workshop on Nursery Road. More broadly, Schenck represents one of the few art potters who bridge the gap
between traditional Arts and Crafts ceramics and the English Studio Pottery Movement. Even less is known
about Schenck’s own pottery, however, and no surviving examples by him have yet been located. There are

vague recollections by Omega artists that he made mostly unglazed flowerpots and domestic pieces, but the

titles of Schenck’s works exhibited at the 1910 AAA Salon, which include a gargoyle and wall tiles decorated

with fishes and a peacock, are more reminiscent of art pottery of the Arts and Crafts Movement and decorative

items by the Omega Workshops. Without surviving examples or additional contemporary materials (such as

photographs or written descriptions), a more accurate analysis of Schenck’s art pottery remains difficult.

Information related to George Schenck is limited and disjointed, but it has been expanded and consolidated
in recent months through research, kindly supported by members of the Merton Historical Society. Special
mention must go to San Ward, whose genealogical knowledge has been indispensable. It is hoped that this
article may lead to more discoveries through local history resources and members’ knowledge.

[Ben is a PhD candidate in Art & Design History at Kingston University, London, whose subject is The Omega
Workshops (1913–19). He can be contacted at benjamin.angwin@gmail.com]


We had a good time on Saturday 19 August. There was a steady flow of visitors; we sold

£67-worth of publications, and handed out more than 60 of our new brochures. We found
new homes for each item from our collection of stoneware jars and bottles, rescued 50
years ago from a dig on the site of the Phipps Bridge Youth Centre and stored in our
archives ever since. It is good to know that they can now enjoy a new lease of life! Our
free back copies of the Bulletin and early Local History Notes also proved popular. David
Luff’s display celebrating Merton’s own supermodel Sindy’s 60th birthday (see p.1 &
right) was a great attraction, though the balloon David bought for the display escaped! Pam Belton kindly took
the photos. It was good to meet several members of MHS and to be discovered by potential new members.
Many thanks for assisting with the stall to Bea Oliver, Fiona and Dick Bower, Ian Aldridge, Dave Haunton,

Peter Hopkins and especially
David Luff who stayed all day. And, of course, particular thanks to Heritage
Officer Sarah Gould for another amazing event – and also for accepting two large items from our archive, the

old Crown Inn sign, now back on its original site, and the sections of the old wooden signpost from the corner

of London Road / Green Lane / Central Road.


On Saturday 8 July, Wandle Industrial Museum hosted the third Wandle Arts Festival on what turned out to
be one of the wettest days of the summer. MHS had a publications stall on the approach to the event, bravely

manned amid the showers by Rosemary Turner, Ian Aldridge and David Luff. Unhappily, only passing trade

noticed us, but we are assured that ‘no books were harmed’ on the day.

For Mitcham Heritage Day on Saturday 9 September, Tony Scott and Irene Burroughs manned our stall in the
parish room of SS Peter & Paul Roman Catholic church, sharing the space with some photographic exhibitions.

We sold £33-worth of our publications to a steady trickle of visitors, to whom we also offered free Mitcham

Local History Notes and our brochures. Tony gave two guided tours of the building on behalf of the church.
{continued on p.10)




Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire and Surrey, [though the

medieval account of the foundation of the priory, published by MHS in
2019 as A
Priory Founded, explains that Gilbert in fact had demolished

his first church here by 1121, soon after the priory moved to the site

by the Wandle]. The roof of the nave is nearly 900 years old and the
chancel dates from 1400. The two aisles were built in the 19th century
to accommodate the population explosion. Admiral Horatio Nelson
worshipped at St Mary’s when he lived at Merton Place, and his
wooden pew, once boxed in, is still there, with his funerary hatchment
hanging at the side. Outside, opposite the main entrance in Church
Path (the porch right), are ‘Nelson’s Steps’, a mounting block where,
it is said, he mounted his horse. Inside again, the 16th-century Lovell
monument is in the chancel (below, left), while the Victorian south aisle has a splendid set of four William

Morris / Edward Burne-Jones windows, installed to commemorate John Innes’ life.

We then went outside to the
churchyard where we saw the
tombstones of two remarkable men.
John Innes (1829-1904) (right),
founder of the Merton Park Estate,
was a British property developer and
philanthropist who from the 1860s
developed Merton Park as a garden
suburb. There is a mature landscape
in the area with many tree-lined
streets and holly hedges, as holly was
the emblem of the Innes clan. He left
money in his will for the founding
in Merton Park of an institution for
horticultural training and research
and this led to the establishment in
1909 of the John Innes Horticultural Institution. The John Innes Society is a thriving group today. William
Rutlish (1605-1687) was a resident of the parish of Merton and Court embroiderer to King Charles II, becoming
very wealthy in this capacity. He left £400 (about £61,000 today) in his will to build a school for the education
of the poor children of the parish. Rutlish School is named after him and he is honoured to this day by pupils

of the school when they visit the ancient church for a Commemoration
Day service, when the Head Boy lays a wreath on Rutlish’s tomb. The
churchyard has a Norman archway, built around 1175 as the entrance to the
guest house at Merton Priory; rescued and moved to its present site in 1935.

We enjoyed the many historic features and appreciated the various
information cards provided, while some members reminisced on their
own family connections to the church. Several of us explored some of the
notable monuments in the churchyard (left, an impression by Rosemary
Turner), armed with the free short trail guide downloadable at: https://
www.stmarysmerton.org.uk/page/10/our-history Lastly we were served
tea/coffee and biscuits by the lovely volunteer ladies in the church and so

ended a delightful morning. Many thanks to our host Hazel Abbott and to
the church for making us so welcome and supplying refreshments.

Auriel Glanville, photos courtesy irene Burroughs




On a sunny 10 August 2023 eight members of MHS met outside the renamed Rushmere
pub on the Ridgway for this very enjoyable walk, led by member Michael Norman-

Smith. The first address we visited was 4 Berkeley Place, a tall elegant three storey

house, which was the childhood home of the actress Margaret Rutherford (1892-1972):
the house bears a blue plaque with her name (right). She was in fact born in Tooting
and her family went to India, but things didn’t go to plan and Margaret was sent back
to England to live with her aunt Bessie. Margaret attended Wimbledon High School
and wanted to be an actress, but her aunt did not approve, so Margaret had to wait
until the aunt died before she took up acting, in her forties. Wimbledon High School
has recently named a new building on their site as the Rutherford Building. Margaret

starred as Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple in several films, and as the head-mistress

in the St Trinian’s films. She is remembered for her role as Madame Arcati in Noel
Coward’s film Blithe Spirit.

Our next address was Honey Cottage in Clifton Road, a tall building veiled behind an evergreen hedge. This
was the home of Dr Gillian Hawtin who wrote books on local history such as Off to School. She typed the texts

and drew the illustrations herself. She suffered from asthma, carried a crocodile handbag, and as a local figure,

was considered somewhat eccentric. Her father disliked his own family: one of his brothers died of pneumonia
and another sustained a head injury and died from a tumour. She was not popular with local historian Richard
Milward, but she was friendly with a man who lived in a nearby street. He had a vast collection of books and
Gillian Hawtin may have inherited many of them.

The walk went on to Wimbledon Common near the Rushmere pond, and under the shade of a large oak
tree Michael Norman-Smith produced a small Womble toy to lead into the subject of our third ‘Lady of

Significance’: Elizabeth Beresford the author of books about the Wombles of Wimbledon Common, which she

created in the 1970s. She lived in Putney, and the stories had come to fruition as she and her children walked
her dog on Wimbledon Common; Elizabeth made up the stories as they walked. However, her children couldn’t
pronounce ‘Wimbledon’, saying ‘Wombledon’ instead. The Wombles, the furry creatures with long snouts and
unusual names such as Orinoco, kept Wimbledon Common litter-free but this idea of helping the landscape

backfired, as children reading
the books thought the Wombles were real and so would drop litter on purpose,

to make the Wombles arrive and pick it up. Wombles are nearly real – local football team AFC Wimbledon
has a Womble mascot named Haydon, while our guide has had his photograph taken with the Wombles for a
fund-raising event for the Wimbledon Guild.

Our walk then took us across to Chester Road and along the
edge of the Common past Cannizaro House and on to a house
named ‘North View’, where a mural in the eaves shows the
sun, white against a blue sky (right). We stopped at a house
with a blue plaque showing the name of Josephine Butler,
a distinguished campaigner, resident here for three years.
Josephine produced pamphlets, books and letters including

Storm Bell
a monthly magazine. Her first article was on
Education and Employment of Women (1867). She came from
a wealthy Northumberland background and rescued girls
from the workhouse, becoming called the Patron Saint of Prostitutes. In her rescue home she accommodated
Rebecca Jarrett, who worked with William Stead, an editor who also lived in Wimbledon, to get the age of
consent for girls raised from 13 to 16 years. He mounted a campaign in his journal and paid £5 for a girl he
bought from her mother. Stead and Jarrett were found guilty of this procurement and Stead was sent to prison
and Jarrett sent for hard labour.

The next address was another tall house with two gate-posts mounted with stone orbs. The writer who lived
here was Margaret Oliphant, who was Scottish. She and her husband and family went to Italy, but her husband
and then her daughter died, so Margaret returned to England with her sons. She wrote popular novels with titles
such as Hester and Miss Marjoribanks. On her deathbed she saw from the window fireworks going off over
Wimbledon Common to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria (1897).


Again standing under the shade of a tree, for the weather was getting rather warm, we faced the road leading
past Kings College, where Michael indicated a cottage past the Crooked Billet pub that had been a holiday
home for Marie Belloc-Lowndes, sister of Hilaire Belloc the famous writer. They were of French parentage. An
author in her own right, Marie wrote an autobiography I too have lived in Arcadia. She also wrote The Lodger,

which became the basis for several horror films about Jack the Ripper, including one by Alfred Hitchcock.

Along Southside we stopped to look at a building with a blue plaque for William Wilberforce, which had been
the stable block for Lauriston House. Winifred Whitehead, the author who wrote about her life in Wimbledon
1885-1965, had lived at Lauriston House with her parents. Her father was Sir Arthur Fell, MP for Great
Yarmouth, who notably died inside the Barclays Bank branch in Wimbledon.

Another Wimbledon author was Gwen Malcolm who lived in a large (eleven bedrooms!) house called Canisbay
built on the corner of the Grange. Two of her books were Memories and More Memories written in the 1980s.
She married into the Malcolm family. Her husband’s business was in jute in Dundee, and her father-in-law
gave the married couple a house. Edward VIII as Prince of Wales came to ‘Deepdale’, their house at the time,

where he had a bath and notoriously shaved in the bath. Afinal memory was during WW2, when Gwen was
bathing and the sirens went off. Her Portuguese maid banged on the bathroom door and shouted out ‘Madam

– you will be killed in the bath!’
Our final address was the home of Dame June Whitfield who lived in the Grange. June fell in love with the bay
window on the first floor and the staircase of her house. Her mother Muff lived next door in the Coach House,

separate from the main house. Dame June was an actress and president of the Carlton Club, active for 60 years.
She had performed on a pier at Bournemouth in A
Bedful of Foreigners and the venue had to be evacuated
due to a bomb scare. The pier created strange sounds of creaking and the sea. She was Eth in The Glums on
the radio, and of course starred in Carry On
films, in Terry and June
and Absolutely Fabulous on television.
During the ‘Crazy Gang’ years of the 1980s, she was president of the Wimbledon football supporters club,
which entitled her to visit the changing rooms. On the occasion of the 1988 FA Cup victory, she happily joined
the celebrations there – while the team were still changing.

Norma Cox


On 15 September, a group of members visited the Museum, which has
recently re-opened after refurbishment and re-design. Museum Director
Jacqueline Laurence explained that it was originally opened in 1916
as part of the Wimbledon Society, inspired by Joseph Toynbee’s 1863
booklet Hints on the formation of local museums. Originally based on

objects found within five miles of St Mary’s Parish Church, it now

covers the old parish of Wimbledon, and has a thematic approach,
based around objects on display. Newly on display are ‘Red Teddy’,
a 1932 toy that survived a V-1 bomb hit, and a rare 300-year-old elm-
wood ‘biscuit brake’, a small table for beating dough to make crisp
biscuits popular in Georgian times (right).

Note that there is a small reference library and a map collection.
Museum collections manager Dr Pamela Greenwood will be happy to
assist members with research enquiries.

Email her on: museumcollections@wimbledonsociety.org.uk

OTHER EVENTS (Continued from p.7)

Sadly, Open House Weekend at St Lawrence Church, Morden, attracted only seventeen visitors on Saturday
16 September and six the next day, probably because of the weather – rain and hail on Sunday afternoon. But
we did sell four publications (for £13-50), including a copy of the final volume of Medieval Morden. Peter
Hopkins was assisted by David Luff (full time, both days), Jenny Harper (Sunday afternoon) and Bea Oliver

(Saturday lunch). Peter recommends that if you haven’t seen the recently cleaned and restored 17th-century

glass in the east window, do visit https://stlawrencechurch.co.uk/the-east-window-project-2020/ to see the


Christine Pittman

NORMA COX discusses some innovative local firms


I enjoy looking for industrial sites and in South West London there are plenty. Recently I came across three

more, two of which were in the Lombard Business Park, off Morden Road, SW19. The third was close by, on

the other side of Morden Road in the Nelson Trading Estate. One factory, Endecotts, was still working, the
second, G H Zeal Ltd, was no longer trading but the factory building remains, while the third business, Foster
Engineering Co Ltd, had gone, its factory demolished and replaced by a B & Q warehouse and a Howdens
Warehouse. I have studied the history of these three factories to record part of the industrial heritage of Merton.

I had seen the red-brick factory site of Endecotts in
Lombard Road, SW19, for many years, for it is plainly
visible from Morden Road, especially so from the upper
deck of the no.93 bus travelling to and from Morden. The
building is very pleasing to look at and has an art-deco feel
in its style. The factory’s name Endecotts is clearly seen in
bold lettering on the fascia at the front of the building. In
addition the name is spelt out in lettering descending the
rectangular front of the building, close to the edge of its
south side. (right
photo: Norma Cox 06/03/23) At the rear
of this building is the main factory block, built at right-

angles, with its two floors and pitched roof. Endecotts is the world’s leading manufacturer of quality laboratory

Endecotts Limited was started in 1936 by Arthur Endecott in Kingston Road, SW19, in
a small workshop above Clegg’s garage. The business later moved to larger premises,
also in Kingston Road2 as shown in this advert from 1952 (left).3 The company produced

mesh filters and similar products to supply local industry requirements. During 1939-45
Endecotts supported the war effort by using their engineering skills to produce parts for the

Ministry of Defence and other Government departments.

test sieves, sieve-shakers and related laboratory equipment.1
In the 1950s Endecotts manufactured sieves, filters, screens, grids and grilles of wire gauze, which were made
to British Standards specifications and used world-wide. The gauze mesh for a 2-inch aperture ranged up to

400 mesh, equating to 160,000 apertures to the square inch; it could be made in phosphor bronze, brass, copper,
stainless or mild steel. The size of sieves supplied ranged from 3-inch diameter up to two feet, in all materials.

Another Endecotts product in the 1950s was a milk-filter used extensively by farmers in milk production, with
a large proportion of the filters exported.4 Filters are made to customers’specifications for drawing or sampling

and include grids and grilles for aircraft, beer screens for the brewing industry, hair-drying machine grids,

laundry-screens for filtering spirit, loud-speaker grilles and filters for petrol, oil, water and air. The firm also
carried out metal-spinning to customers’specifications, pressing and welding, all of which are incorporated

within modern sheet-metal works for the production of these articles.5
Arthur’s son Albert developed the business further and moved into a 10,000-sq.ft facility at 9 Lombard Road

SW19. In 1965 the company needed more space, so a second floor was added above the ground floor, to

provide that extra. (My husband Chris Cox used Endecott sieve-shakers to mix powders for analysis when
he worked as an analytical chemist from the late 1970’s to the early 1980’s at Stanton Redcroft, the thermal
analytical company based in Copper Mill Lane SW17.6)

Endecotts was acquired by the supplier N Greening, manufacturers of woven wire mesh. Greening’s were then
acquired by Johnson and Firth Brown in the 1970s, when Endecotts joined the light engineering division of
Johnson Firth Brown, who in time became Firth Rixson PLC. Firth Rixson are specialist producers of ring-
rolled products and heavy forged components for the aerospace industry.7 Endecotts were part of Firth Rixson
for 27 years. Eventually considered as ‘non-core’ by Firth Rixson, Endecotts was acquired in September 2005
by the management team and external investors.

Endecotts became part of the Verder Group in 2010. Since then, the company has undergone a modernisation

process and has released a completely new line of state-of-the-art shakers. Today the firm offers a wide range
of high quality
sieves in different sizes and materials and the levels of certification meet every national and


international standard and every industrial specification including ISO3310 and

ASTME-II around the world. Some sieve-shakers are shown here (left courtesy
Endecotts).8 Their Lombard Road address is the registered address of an active
Private Limited Company, originally incorporated on 23 March 1965, and still
trading today. The next accounts, made up to 29 December 2022, are due by 28
September 2023.9

My second factory site was G H
Zeal Ltd, founded in 1888 in Wimbledon, which manufactured

thermometers and scientific instruments. During 1899-1922

the business was located at 82 Turnmill Street EC1, and in
1921 was incorporated as a limited company. However, during
1950-1975, G H Zeal Ltd traded at 8 Lombard Road, Merton,
SW19. This factory is seen in an advert from the 1956 Merton
and Morden Official Guide (right). The company later moved
close by to 8 Deer Park Road SW19 3GY.10 The instruments
manufactured by G H Zeal Ltd involved thermometer tube-
blowing, which was one of the few remaining hand-skilled
crafts left in the world in the 1950s.11 According to the 1952

Merton and Morden Official Guide, this craft ‘together with

other specialised processes were carried out by 850 operators
who worked in two well equipped factories in Lombard Road
which covered 70,000 sq. feet.’ The company’s registered
trade-mark was a large letter Z intertwined with a serpent.
This trade-mark was similar to the
ancient sign for health and medicine
known as the Rod of Asclepius. In
1990 G H Zeal Ltd was taken over by
RAPID9680 Ltd but still traded as G H
Zeal Ltd until 2010.12 The Zeal chrome
plated thermometer case (left courtesy

Science Museum) was the
type of thermometer case I
remember from my childhood. Most Zeal thermometers and hydrometers
were made of glass, and do not photograph well, but I have found an example
of their packaging (left courtesy Science Museum).13 Zeal’s rather impressive
factory building at 8 Lombard Road still exists today (below
photo Norma

Cox 06/03/23).


My third factory site was Foster Engineering Co Ltd, mentioned in the
Industrial section of Evelyn Jowett’s 1951 publication about Merton and
My third factory site was Foster Engineering Co Ltd, mentioned in the
Industrial section of Evelyn Jowett’s 1951 publication about Merton and
Morden. In fact Foster Engineering Company Ltd was founded in 1903
(and later renamed Foster Transformers) and is seen in an advert from the
1956 edition of the Merton and Morden Official Guide (right).15 This shows
an aerial photograph of the Foster Transformers site and captures the sight
of a steam-train passing on a single-track railway to the south of the factory.
This line was the Tooting, Merton and Wimbledon Extension Railway
and the train was heading east to the Merton Abbey Station (the line and
station are both now demolished).16 Fosters Engineering became a private
company in 1907.17 Fosters became known as Foster Transformers and
Switchgear in 1952.18 They produced transformers and voltage regulating
equipment ‘for the distribution, regulation and control of electrical power
to suit every purpose’ as advertised in the Merton & Morden Year Book for
1956.19 Some of their switchgears and transformers are shown in adverts
archived by the gracesguide website (below, centre and right).20

In 1956 Foster Transformers became

a subsidiary of Lancashire Dynamo

Holdings Ltd and then in 1960

part of Metal Industries.21 In 1961

Foster Transformers were listed as

manufacturing electrical engineers

and dealers in electrical and wireless

appliances.22 Foster Transformers Ltd

advertised in the 1965 Merton and
Morden Chamber of Commerce Trade Year Book. Foster Transformers was

still listed in Kelly’s Post Office Directory in 1979,23 but it was not in the 1983

edition. Interestingly the welfare and comfort of their employees was noted in

an advert from the Merton and Morden Official Guide 1952, which claimed that

Foster Transformers had an excellent canteen and social and welfare services

Industry has played a very important rôle in the lives of people in Merton and Morden and the two period
factory buildings remaining in Lombard Road are reminders of a bygone age, especially when compared to
modern industrial buildings. Today only one of the three factories studied is still in business and it is a world

leader in its field. Recording industrial sites not only gives an insight into the businesses but also opens our

eyes to the lives and history of the employees.
Thanks to gracesguide for British Industrial History information and images, to Sarah Gould and the London

Borough of Merton for the use of information from Merton and Morden Official Guides, to Endecotts for

the information from their website, and to the Science Museum Collection for G H Zeal Ltd information and
images, which are printed under a creative commercial licence.

1 https://www.endecotts.com/company

2 As Note 1

Merton and Morden Official Guide 1952 ; p 54

4 As Note 3
5 As Note 1
6 MHS Bulletin No 225, March 2023; pp.4-5
7 As Note 1
8 As Note 1
9 Endecotts business details. https://find-and


10 https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/people/

11 As Note 3
12 As Note 10
13 As Note 10

14 Wells, Elgin S, 1951. ‘Industrial Merton and Morden’
in A
History of Merton and Morden by Evelyn Jowett
(1951, Merton and Morden Festival of Britain Local
Committee) pp.143-146

Merton and Morden Official Guide 1956
16 http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/m/merton_abbey/


17 www.gracesguide.co.uk/Foster_Transformers

18 As Note 17

19 As Note 15

20 As Note 17

21 As Note 17

22 As Note 17

Kelly’s Post Office Directory 1975

24 As Note 3 (Attached to map at end of booklet)


CHRiSTiNE PiTTMAN entertains us while searching for

CHRiSTiNE PiTTMAN entertains us while searching for
When I first saw this photo (right) on Merton
Memories Photographic Archive, I was
surprised to read that the shop was located in
Devonshire Road, Colliers Wood – that road
is now entirely residential, bar one corner
shop, and dates from a later era. I was not sure
there would have been enough passing trade
to support commercial dining rooms, and my
instinct told me that the photo had been taken
somewhere on High Street, Colliers Wood.

I decided that it would make an interesting
research project, and one that should not be

too difficult to carry out, so I could report

back at the next workshop. All I needed to

find out was when the photo was taken, where

it was taken and who owned the Devonshire
Dining Rooms. It is now six months later, and
I can tell you that I have found answers to
those questions, more or less, but I still have

no definitive proof. I have only what might be

called ‘circumstantial evidence’.

The Date

The commentary accompanying the photo
on Merton Memories pointed out that there
was an advertisement in the window for
Andrews Pictures, which was ‘an early
cinema show held at Nelson Hall, Merton’.
Cinema Treasures website listed the Nelson
Hall Picture Palace as opening in early 1912,
and closing in 1916, with the building later
demolished. I could not make out the name of

the film showing in the advert, so I turned to

the poster for Wimbledon Theatre.

This gave me an interesting insight into early twentieth century theatrical taste – Wimbledon was advertising
performances of The Monk and The Woman, a melodrama by Frederick Melville, which opened in the Lyceum
Theatre in London’s West End on 28 February 1912. The good Brother Paul, who is charged with looking after
the heroine Liane, squares up to the evil Prince de Montrale when the heroine takes refuge in the monastery,
hiding from her unwelcome suitor. Monks disguised as soldiers suddenly unfrock and point their weapons at
the villains, providing a dramatic coup de theatre, and the happy couple marry (despite him being a monk). The
production toured to suburban and country theatres during 1912, and on 29 August 1912, lead actor Ronald
Adair posted his Theatrical Card in The Stage newspaper as appearing for three nights in Wimbledon Theatre.

I failed to find anything about the poster advertising a ‘Big Circus’at Earl’s Court, but happily, I was able to

locate King’s Hall Picture Palace at 181-183 High Street, Tooting, from a comment in the reminiscences of

James B Bass (MHS Local History Note 15). It opened on 30 January 1909 and was believed to be the first
purpose-built cinema in Britain, still in existence until it was demolished to make way for flats and retail in
2012/13. (The current building, where there is a blue plaque, now includes a Thai restaurant and a gym.) The

Palace was showing On the Warpath, a silent movie about an Indian chief, Arrow Head, dreaming of his past
exploits as a Yuma brave saving his tribe from the Apaches, with the help of his Sioux girlfriend Red Feather.

The film was released in the UK on 18 July 1912.

So everything points to this photo being taken in mid to late 1912.


The Dining Rooms

The Dining Rooms

1910/11 directory. He was listed at 25 Abbey Parade. This was a row of shops with residential space above,
first listed in 1908/09. Bingo! I thought, I have found him, my search is over.

I went straight to the 1911 census for more information on James Devonshire. He was not there. In fact, he was
nowhere that I could see. By 4 April 1911, 25 Abbey Parade was an empty property, and James Devonshire was
gone. Various suggestions from friends – he was dead, had been secretly murdered, or drowned on the Titanic

– did not help. I persisted, and, by choosing the ‘Australia’ tab on ancestry.com, I was able to search through
the records of shipping arrivals in Australia. I found Mr J Devonshire and Mrs Devonshire, arriving in Sydney
on SS Narrung
on 29 May 1911; a further search online told me that SS Narrung left London on 28 March
1911, seven days before the census – explaining why he did not appear in it. That is enough to convince me.
So now I have the owner of the original business.

The Location

It is now relatively easy to edit photos on an iPad and I was able to enhance the street sign above the shop

name, and see that it read ‘The Pavement’. Several false leads later, after I had pursued the five existing

‘Pavements’ in London, I found out that a small parade of shops on Merton Road, Mitcham, had until 1892
been known as The Pavement. Kelly’s Directory wrote for ‘The Pavement,
see Merton Road’, and listed numbers 5 to 1, The Pavement, on Merton Road
between Briscoe Road and Walpole Road. (The shops were numbered from
south to north, unlike the others.) In later editions, as more shops were built,
these properties joined in the changing sequence of numbers on High Street,
Colliers Wood, Merton. By tracking the numbers over the years, I guess this
property is now 36 High Street, Colliers Wood, currently home to the South
London Tamil Welfare Group.

Does that mean the building in the photo still stands on the High Street? Sadly,
no – a postcard dated 1915 shows new shops, built on the same footprint. The
one constant in all this is the pillar-box marked ‘G R’ (right) (as were early

ones, not ‘GvR’as later ones) which stood in front of the post office at no.2

The Pavement, and which is still there today in front of 34 High Street.

So I finally had the location, though not the actual building.


Had I known that I was setting off in

search of a man who had left the country,
a building that no longer existed, and an
address that had vanished, I might have

reconsidered my quest. I cannot find

conclusive printed proof to match the
photo, as Devonshire Dining Rooms do
not appear again in Kelly’s directories.
But I do have a postcard from the
late 1920s of 22 High Street, Colliers
Wood, where almost identical signage
shows the dining rooms of William
Herbert Skeemer (right), and I like to
think the business carried on in some
form. A photo is just one moment in time, and that moment may not have been captured in any printed list, but
it is still evidence. It is wonderful that this particular photo has survived and is available on Merton Memories.

My thanks to Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre for their collection of printed works and online photos,
and to Colliers Wood Library for access to ancestry.com on the public computers.


HUGH MORGAN of the Dorset Hall Group has a puzzle:

HUGH MORGAN of the Dorset Hall Group has a puzzle:

Having spent his formative years at Dorset Hall, Paul Lamartine Yates was
probably intrigued by the descending steps in the closet: knowledge of their
existence was passed on to the authors of the John Innes Society 1994 booklet
Dorset Hall 1906-1935. The illustration of the Ground Floor Plan in the
booklet was compiled from information noted as provided by Paul: it includes
the closet marked ‘C’ and the evident steps (marked in the extract from the

plan, right).

The booklet also describes the house
layout and how between the Drawing
Room and the Hall lay ‘a narrow closet
with steps leading down below ground’.
An investigation of the closet shows that
the house wall has a stone section with
ancient brick inserts (left photo courtesy Dorset Hall Group), a form of
construction that does not occur anywhere else in the house. We know,
from A
short history of Dorset Hall by John Wallace (published in 1991),
that in 1688 a farmer, Edward Hubbard, came into possession of this parcel
of land on the Kingston Road, on which stood a single-hearthed cottage
with courtyard and garden. In 1727 the Hubbard family ended their tenure
and the documents surrendering their possession make clear that a second
building had been constructed during their 39-year occupation – Dorset
Hall itself. The cottage with a single hearth is not heard of again. What
happened to it? Was part of the original cottage incorporated in the west
wall of the new Dorset Hall and do the steps leading down therefore have
a 17th century origin? The stonework in the wall suggest that this is likely,
which raises the question where did the descending steps go? Did they
lead to the legendary tunnel to St.Mary’s church?

[Editor: Towards a cool wine-store? Any other suggestions?]


The Chapter House Trust reports a successful 2023, hosting various events (Art Exhibitions, NT Precinct
Wall Day, schools visits, and Merton Council’s networking session for the 2027 Borough of Culture Bid). The
number of visitors (c.3000) and the value of donations were both much the same as 2022. Alas, the drains
problem is still unresolved, with portaloos occasionally used as a temporary solution. The Chapter House is

now closed for the winter, re-opening at the end of March with the Spring Art Exhibition. The new film of the

Minecraft model will be available, and another Study Afternoon is planned, following the success of last year’s
event. Chapter House Dog Toby is now 14, but, happily, still up for a game of chase the stick.

In 2023 the Wandle industrial Museum celebrated its 40th year. After various early moves, in July 1989 their
archive materials were moved to the basement of The Vestry Hall, Mitcham, and its annexe building, which
became the Museum’s present home in 1991. Why not become a member, for £10 (Family £15, under-16
Student £5)? Full details are on the Museum website www.wandle.org

MHS is bound by the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

Please see the MHS website regarding how this concerns your personal data.

Letters and contributions for the Bulletin should be sent to the Hon. Editor by email to
The views expressed in this Bulletin are those

of the contributors concerned and not necessarily those of the Society or its Officers.

website: www.mertonhistoricalsociety.org.uk email: mhs@mertonhistoricalsociety.org.uk

Printed by Peter Hopkins